Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Wu, Shuxin (2018). Towards a Critical Contemporary Design in Historic Settings: Reclaiming the Inherent Relationship between the Old and the New, Reclaiming Continuity in Differentiation (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Contemporary design in historic settings is a public concern as it fundamentally impacts the protection of historic resources, which specifically refers to new constructions in historical and existing context. At the core of design in historic settings lies the issues of studying, interpreting, and expressing the relationship between the old and the new. This thesis intends to address some of the limitations in how architectural designers approach these issues in historic settings and propose alternative design strategies. The strategies include analysis and methodology to integrate preservation philosophies with architectural design. They aim to produce new designs in historic settings which could go beyond the dichotomy between “strict preservation” and “strict differentiation” and to find a balance between “copies” and “experiments”. The thesis intends to reclaim a common ground between preservation and design. It reclaims an inherent relationship between the old and the new by proposing three alternative strategies to position design in historic preservation as both a creative and conservative act.


Contemporary design in historic settings, Relationship between the old and the new, Architectural representation of history, Continuity in differentiation, Preservation and design



Date Posted: 11 June 2018